How to Survive Your Next Camping Trip in the Canadian Wilderness


Renowned author, paddler and outdoor enthusiast Kevin Callan (aka The Happy Camper) shares his top tips for returning safely from the woods with pride still intact.

How to choose the best camping stove

A butane/propane stove is your best bet when it comes to camp cuisine as this blend of fuel offers a much higher–octane performance than butane alone. It also makes sense to pack a “stick stove,” which is fuelled by small twigs and forest debris like pinecones and bark, just to ensure your cookout isn’t derailed by technical difficulties (like running out of fuel!).

Related: 7 Camping Grounds to Discover in Canada

July 7, 2021
how to stormproof your tent

How to stormproof a tent

Place a groundsheet inside your tent to prevent water from soaking your sleeping bag, making sure it’s big enough to ride up the tent walls at least six inches. Don’t place it on the outside if it’s larger than the footprint of your tent – this will only trap water and cause more problems than not having a groundsheet at all.

matches for camping

How to start a campfire

One of the biggest mistakes in fire–starting is to add too much fuel, too fast. Instead, start small, stacking wood, ranging from small kindling the size of your finger to forearm–size, larger pieces. Once the kindling completely catches, begin to place the larger pieces, keeping a gap between the sticks to allow the fire to breathe.

an illustration of a bear

How to protect yourself from bears while camping

If you happen upon a bear on the trail, it’s best to calmly back off and give the animal its space. If you surprise a mother black bear with cubs, never show aggression or she’ll fight back. If a curious bear wanders into camp, try a mild aggression technique – make yourself look big and be loud. Running only triggers a predatory response – and you’ll never outrun a bear.

how to camp with kids - books, sports, boots

How to camp with kids

Camping with kids can be fun and stress–free, especially if you lower your expectations and keep things light. (i.e. Laugh and don’t show fear. Your phobias will definitely be on high alert when you take your kids camping, but you are their role model and if you giggle at a tumble or sing a silly song during bad weather, they will, too.)

How to boil water faster

No need to keep lifting the pot lid: to speed boiling time and save fuel, put the pot lid on upside down and place a small amount of water in the depression. When the water in the lid begins to form small bubbles, then the water inside the pot has reached a rolling boil and is ready for whatever dehydrated fare you’re tossing in.

packing for camping

How to pack your tent like a pro

There are “rollers” and “stuffers.” I stuff mine, and even have two separate compression sacks, one for the main tent and another for the fly because the tent fly is always wetter than the tent body.

hand reaching for seed

How to practice proper GORP–eating etiquette

Commonly known as Good Old Raisins and Peanuts, but everything goes – salty, crunchy, sweet or chewy – for this classic high–energy snack. Never pick and choose only the bits and pieces you like from the GORP bag, but blindly grab a handful of the entire mixture and munch away.

bug protection for camping

How to deal with bugs while camping

Dark–coloured clothing attracts mosquitoes and blackflies (wearing blue jeans is just asking for it) compared to light, bright colours – hot pink works great. When it comes to DEET, I prefer Ben’s: it’s water– (not alcohol) based, so it doesn’t absorb into your skin as easily, you don’t have as much nasty bug spray odour and less of the repellent evaporates. (Plus, it doesn’t hurt like hell when it gets in your eyes.)

camping in the wilderness

How to practice leave–no–trace camping

Leaving a trace is a crime against nature, so camp on durable surfaces and dispose of waste properly. And it’s villainous not to dig a proper cathole when you go to the loo – it should be six to eight inches deep and 70 adult steps from water, trails and camp.